I am a single mother to a 13 year old girl. My daughter is out of control. I think she's already had sex, or at least fooled around with some boys. She wears outrageous clothes and paints her nails black and even wears one of those dog collars! She listens to the most awful music too.
I've tried my best and I just don't know what to do anymore. I lay down rules, but she just ignores them and we get into a huge fight where she winds up telling me that she hates me. I can't deal with this anymore. I thought that maybe since you've worked with kids and claim to know how to deal with them, you might have some suggestion.
-Parent of a Wild Child
First, let it be known that this is a serious response
I don't know all the details of your situation, so whatever advice I give has the potential of being flawed. However, I do see quite a few big problems just from your letter.
First, you claim she's "out of control." Really? Control, you say? There's a word for the state in which one human being controls another: Slavery. History teaches us that the problem with keeping slaves (from the oppressor's point of view) is the human spirit and the desire for freedom. You see, you can only oppress a people for so long until they eventually rise up against their oppressors. The same is true from the stance of parenting. As long as you see your child as something to be "controlled" she will see you as nothing more than something that is controlling her. The human drive for freedom will push her to rebel. The first step in fixing this mess is for you to realize that you do NOT "control" her (nor should you). Try showing her some respect as an equal human being and that will give her the chance to earn your respect on other levels. This is a common parenting problem where the child first says "You don't respect me, so why should I respect you?!" and the parent retorts "I'll respect you when you deserve respect!" No, no, no. If you give your daughter just basic human respect, the rest will follow. She can never earn your respect as a person until you give her the chance.
So you disagree with what she wears? Well, boo-fuckin-hoo for you! As many teens are fond of saying, it's not your body and therefore not your decision as to what she wears on it. Your problem (as is always the problem with parents) is that you're thinking about how her "outrageous" clothes will reflect badly on YOU as a parent. You're concerning yourself with how your daughter might affect your reputation as a parent instead of concerning yourself with what is best for your child. Allowing her to express herself in her own way without fascist interference IS what's best for her! Also, it's entirely possible that she is merely going to extremes as a blatant act of defiance against you. If you weren't being such a fucking prude about it, she might not be so "outrageous" with her style of dress.
Her sex life. Well, I'm tempted to also say that it's none of your business, but that's not entirely true. It is very much your responsiblity to keep your child safe from things that may harm her and sex CAN have harmful (and even deadly) consequences. The trouble is that as long as you exhibit this conservative attitude toward sex and combine it with your obviously oppressive attitude towards her, she's not going to listen to what you have to say. Try to talk to her as an equal and explain your position and the things she needs to know. By the way, phrases like "sex is bad" are NOT things she needs to know! If all else fails, tell her to write to me. Perhaps the words of a total stranger will sink in better. Indeed, I may just write a sex guide for young teens.... At least direct her to my Links page and click on the link for the archive of allaboutsex.org. There are GREAT resources there for helping kids learn about sex and also for helping parents teach it.
Bottom line, you need to give respect in order to give it. Respect your daughter's choices and decisions as long as they aren't dangerous to her, but make her aware that you disapprove and most importantly EXPLAIN why you feel that way!
The key to raising a child with respect is good communication and you don't appear to have that. The "my way or the highway" attitude is NOT good communication.
All My Venon,